BANGOR, Maine — The true test of a team’s character often arises when dealing with adversity. For the Presque Isle girls, that test came early in the fourth quarter of its quarterfinal game with John Bapst on Saturday morning.
Junior captain Emily Wheaton, one of Presque Isle’s top scoring threats and the floor general at point guard, went down with an ankle injury with 5:15 to play in the fourth quarter and was unable to return.
Second-seeded Presque Isle (15-4) rallied behind their leader and hung on to beat No. 7 John Bapst 37-36 in a Class B North quarterfinal game at the Cross Insurance Center. The Crusaders end their season with a 12-7 record.
“Emily does everything for us,” Presque Isle coach Jeff Hudson said. “She’s our ball handler and does a great job. So it was gut check time for us for sure. The only time we really had to play without her was the last game of the year against Caribou. Maybe that was a blessing in disguise for us.”
Wheaton finished with nine points while Skylar Vogel led Presque Isle with 11 points. Emily Lagerstrom and Savanah Rodriguez each scored eight.
Crystal Bell led John Bapst with 16 points, including four 3-pointers. Grace Philippon added 11 points.
The Wildcats advance to play No. 3 Foxcroft Academy in a 7:05 p.m. semifinal on Feb. 22. The Ponies advanced with a 52-44 win over No. 6 Central of Corinth on Friday.
Hudson said he was impressed with how his team responded once Wheaton went down.
“Savanah Rodriguez really stepped up for us today,” Hudson said. “Defensively we were really good today. Vogel blocked a lot of shots. I was really happy with the way we rebounded.”
John Bapst coach Mike Webb said the Crusaders hoped to contain the perimeter shooting of Presque Isle’s Wheaton and Lagerstrom, forcing other Wildcats to step up.
Presque Isle started hot, bolting to a 10-2 lead midway through the first quarter thanks to two Wheaton baskets and baskets by Madison Michaud, Rodriguez and Vogel. But John Bapst came roaring back in the second quarter thanks to the 3-point shooting of Bell.
The Crusaders took an 18-15 lead with 3:25 to play in the quarter, but Presque Isle came back to regain the lead 20-18 on a 3-pointer by Lagerstrom. The Wildcats never trailed again.
Hudson said the team would assess the injury to Wheaton later in the day and come up with a game plan for the semifinals.
“We are a total team, we are not just one player,” he said. “Emily is a great player, probably the best in the Big East in my opinion. Others will have to step up.”